The British Army’s presence has been one of prominence in the UK enduro scene since as long as I (new editor) became involved in it since in the late 70’s. At that time Service teams were both prominent with a long legacy of support for the sport including help for non service participants, certainly since the 1930’s. Not only did the service teams take part in events but without access to the British Army’s greatest training areas in the Brecon Beacons National Park it may have been difficult for anyone to have organised the several ISDT events that took place in Wales. The British Army Motoring Association has overseen motorsport within the army since 1960.
I even recall being told that when British Parliament introduced legislation limiting participants in road going motorsport events to 180. As a result of British Army interventions to government, both the ISDT and the Welsh Two Day Trial were given exemptions because of their importance in the Service training regimes so that they were able to get sufficient entries for service teams without it being at the expense of civilian competitors.
I know from the queries and hits we get that there is a lot of interest still in service teams and bikes and will try to explore this relationship with off road trials further. This post however will look at a single example which recently came to light when I obtained a copy of Motor Cycling from 1960 for an article in the ISDT. On the very next page after the ISDT feature was a report into the Army’s National Two Day’s Trials Championships of 1960. I have seen mention of this event elsewhere but this report particularly interested me as the event had been held in Wales and not the usual suspect of the Sennybridge Ranges area but in North Wales at the rather small base set at Kinmel Park near Bodelwyddan, Denbighshire just off the modern A55 North Wales expressway. A base with little or no land holding which often only ranks in history because of the death of a number of Canadian Soldiers during the first world war in what are still seen as very tragic circumstances. The area had a number of small military ranges but most of these have been disposed of from Army Estate during recent years. In order to facilitate the event which included a 130 mile circuit which would have been mostly off road as far as Llangollen and probably included the use of the Clwydian Hills, all of which had in the past been part of the ISDT route and are still in use for Observed Trials such as the Foster and Lomax cups.
The article of the 6th October 1960, which is reproduced below, indicated the event had been a touch challenge and that Servicemen mostly rode the same BSA Sidevalve model, and the 1960 Service ISDT riders who only a week earlier had been rinding the ISDT 1960 took part.
A WIDE variety of qualities were demanded from competitors in last week-end’s Military Championship Trial from which W.O.II A.Timms (Depot R.M.P.) emerged as the British Army title holder. The Army’s International Six Day men were well to the fore.
The fixture was run in North Wales, with Kinmel Park Camp. near Rhyl, as the headquarters, and for the first time was spread over two days. Except for a couple of teams of Royal Marines. the 127 entrants were all Regular, Territorial or National Service soldiers. all of whom had qualified in District and Command Trials.
There were representatives of the British Army of the Rhine, Scottish Command. Northern Ireland Command. and the four English Commands. The entire entry (except the Marines, with Triumphs) were mounted on W.D. 500 c.c. B.S.A. side valves.
On the first day of task was a l30-mile circuit, mainly in the hills of Denbighshire. A stretch of cross-country work came early on, later there being a timed section in quarries near Moel-y-Faen, off the Llangollen·Ruthin road near the Horseshoe Pass. Fastest here was Cpl. Allerton (4/1 Gordons T.A.) with 26.7 sec.
Fresh from their participation in the International Six Days Trial, Sgt. George Norton (R.E.M.E., and. 2 Gren. Gds.), W.O. II Timms. W.O. II Mervyn Edwards (28 Sig. Regt.) and Sgt. Bill Brooker (L.R.B.Rangers T.A .) all finished the day without loss of marks. Others to come through without penalty were Sgt. Barnett (D. and M. School), Sgt. Winslade (4 Wilts. Regt. T.A.), Cpl. Corstorphine (24 Sig. Regt.), Sgt. White (284 Norfolk Yeo. T.A.), Capt. Hutchings (45 Lancs. T .A.), and Cpl. Barnes (1 Trg. Batt. R.A.S.C.).
Out of 35 teams entered, 13 had retired by the end of Saturday’s round. The leaders at that time were 28 Sig. Regt. “A,” 42 marks lost, then came 1 Trg. Batt., R.A.S.C., 45 , followed by 24 Sig. Regt. “A,” 50. and 284 Norfolk Yeomanry,52. All of them kept their team placings to the finish.
There was another 9a.m. start on the Sunday, this time the course being made up of a dozen conventional trials sections, tackled before lunchtime in the vicinity of Kinmel Camp. Over-night rain made the surface exceptionally sticky. One slippery, winding descent,through a wood,caused numerous falls. The nearest to a “clean” score here was by Pte. Davies (31 Trg. Regt.,R.A.), who skated down with only a “dab”.
Knee-deep water, which filled the dip in the final section consistently drowned motors until Norton sidled through with a “dab.” Then, shortly afterwards, Winslade made a feet-up crossing and Brooker and Sgt.Tewell (Royal Marines) were also “clean” here. At several points the advatage lay with Norton and Barnett, whilst the performances of Timms, Winslade and Rigby were also outstanding.
Norton Trophy (best performance): W.O.II Timms (DepotR.M.P.).37 (Special Test.30.1s.).
Motor Cycle Industries Trophy (best Regular Army rider): W.O.II Edwards (28 Sigs.Regt.).3 (S.T., 34.4s).
Motor Cyc1e Industries Cup (best National Service rider): Cpl.Barnes (1 Trg.Bn..R.A.S.C.). 42.
Holden Trophy (best Territorial Army rider): Sgt.Brooker (L.R.B.Ranger.T.A.). 40.
Best Royal Marines rider: Sgt.Rigby.54.
Best Regular (Private or L/Cpl.): L/Cpl.Turk (D.and M.School).79.
Best R.C. of Signals rider: W.O.II Edwards.37.
Gort Trophy (best team): 28 Sigs.Regt.”A” (W.O.II Edwards. Sgt.Lasota, Sigm.Ellis), 169.
Mills Trophy (runners up}: 1Trg. Bn. R.A.S.C. (Lt.Owens L/Cpl. Vince, Cpl.Barnes), 179. Third: 24 Sigs. Regt “A” (Sgt.Fayers, Cpl.Sharpe. L/Cpl.Younghusband). 198.
Graham Walker Cup (best Territorial Army team): 284 Norfolk Yeomanry.T.A. (Sgt.Bowman. Sgt.White. Gnr.Trippe),208.
First – class Awards: Sgt. Winslade and Sgt.Norton.44; Sgt,Barnett. 46; Cpl.Corstorphine, 51; Capt.Hutchings, 53;
Second – class Awards: Sgl. White, 56; L/Cpl. Vince. 57; L/Cpl. Rutherford. 58; L/Cpl.Younghusband, 59; Pte. Mummery and Sgt. Walls, 59; Sgt. Fayers, 60; Bdr.Crook, Sgt.Lasota and Sgt. Day. 61; Pte Orchard and Sgt.Blevings, 62.
Hi, These pages are really good, thanks for taking so much time to pull together. I was looking for references to my Dad and I see him in the ISDT pages and here .. although you’ve got a typo … he was SGT. Gordon Norton not George … but he was definitely in the R.E.M.E and attached to the Guards as you wrote in this page.
Robin Andrew said:
I was with a Gordon Norton in the R M P 1952/3 we both used to ride in motor cycle trials on our army bikes ( Matchless ) we were good mates but he was transferred to the REME I think ( the army school of motoring ,) we were both motor cycle instructors in Aldershot. Is it the same Gordon Norton ?
My name is Robin Andrew but I was known as Harry as I didn’t think Robin would go down too well !